Category Archives: Marketing gone bad

Mother’s Day marketing gone horribly wrong.

My sister (Lisa) just emailed me a screenshot of the Poison mug I made on Zazzle.

Lisa:  “Aww. Nothing says ‘Sentimental gifts for mom‘ like a great big mug full of poison.”

Possibly the most unfortunate sales tie-in ever. Thanks, Zazzle.

I kind of feel bad now

Emails I just sent to a PR person who is probably very nice and who I will certainly regret being snarky to tomorrow once I’ve had sleep and once Victor is home from the hospital (He’s fine, btw.  He just had a metal plate and a bunch of screws put in his arm.  A metal plate in your arm is totally the new black.  Plus, they brought him a morphine cart, which everyone on twitter agreed sounds AWESOME.  Except for one guy who thought I said “morphine cat” but he thought that sounded pretty fucking rad too.  Hard to disagree with that.  But now I’ve forgotten what I was going to write about.  Oh yeah.  PR emails and why even polite harassment makes me sigh deeply to myself):

Email from actual PR person: Hi…I thought this new innovation in bras would interest you and your readers.

Same PR person, days later: Hi again. Just a friendly follow up. I thought this new innovation in bras would interest you and your readers.

me: I only do paid ad spots. Attached is my rate sheet. Thx.

PR person: I dont handle advertising

me: And I don’t offer random bra advertisements for free. We seem to be at an impasse.

me again, seconds later: Just a friendly follow-up reminder that I still don’t post free bra ads on my blog. I know you didn’t ask but the silence implied to me that you might need a reminder. I assume that’s how silence works.

PS. Here’s a picture of Wil Wheaton collating:

someone who is usually much nicer when she doesn’t come home from a day at the hospital to find 169 new reminders of blog pitches that she just finished reading and deleting the day before.

Wil Wheaton and I feel embarrassed for you

Remember last week when Wil Wheaton sent me a picture of himself collating so I could use it to cure the world of bad PR pitches?  If not, then you need to go back and read this.

Back?  Good.  Then you’ll be happy to know that I have started using the Wil-Wheaton-Feels-Sorry-For-You awesomeness to great success.  Just yesterday I created this particular page to send to the PR people who sent me pitches of pictures of Nina Garcia holding a blanket and of Kathy Griffin leaning near baby supplies.  It’s been incredibly fulfilling and I feel bad keeping all of this wonderful Wil Wheatoness to myself so I’m putting a link to the Wil-Wheaton-and-I-feel-embarrassed-for-you page right here so that if you get sent a terrible pitch you can just send the link to the PR person and maybe together we can slow the growing tide of thousands of bewilderingly inappropriate PR pitches using only the whimisical image of Wil Wheaton’s beguilingly smug smile.

Together, we can do this.


This week I was flooded with uncomfortably awkward blog pitches.  Most were robotic form-letters attempting to get a product mentioned in exchange for a high-res photo of something that no one would ever want a high-res photo of.  For instance, an hour ago I got an email from a pr chick (named Bridget) asking if I’d like a high-res picture of Lou Diamond Phillips drinking water.

my response:

Of course I would love a high-res image of Lou Diamond Phillips drinking water.  Who wouldn’t? Please make mine poster-sized and send it to the address below.  Also, it needs to be laminated because I’m going to use it to cover one of the holes the dogs chewed in my bedroom wall and if it’s unlaminated poster paper they’ll just jump right through it like circus lions.  I prefer matte paper over glossy because it looks more classy.  Here is my mailing address:

Jenny L.  10223 Broadway, suite P #359, Pearland TX, 77584

PS.  I just realized that once it’s laminated it won’t actually matter what kind of paper you use so please feel free to use whatever type of paper all the other bloggers are requesting for their poster.

One minute later I sent a follow up:

Hi.  Me again.  I was just telling my girlfriend about your offer to send high-quality images of Lou Diamond Phillips to anyone requesting them and she said she’d like one too but she wants to know if you have any pictures of him not holding water?  If so, that’s actually what I’d like too.  It’s okay if you’ve already mailed me my other poster of Lou Diamond Phillips holding water because honestly, I have a lot of holes to cover up so I can totally use more than one. I‘d thought it was the dogs causing all the damage since I came home yesterday to find Chester LaRue (dachshund) t-boned midway through a hole in the bathroom but then my husband pointed out that our dogs couldn’t have chewed all the holes in the ceiling unless they’d suddenly learned how to levitate. Turns out it’s actually the family of otters that I put in our attic during the winter, who are chewing the holes in the walls to make nests.  I’m not sure why they even need nests.  The whole attic is a nest, otters. My husband is very displeased and frankly I feel a bit betrayed.  This is exactly why you can’t trust otters.

At this point Bridget seemed baffled but showed exceptional professionalism by ignoring the otters and pointing out that they had images of Bobby Brown holding water if that was more my prerogative.

My response:

I appreciate the offer but regardless of how many holes the otters make I would never put up a Bobby Brown poster because we’re Team Whitney.  But you know who I bet would totally want those Bobby Brown posters?  Those fucking otters. Maybe they could just use them to make their nests and stop eating my walls.  Those otters are assholes.

No response.

UPDATE: Proving that not all marketing emails are answered with vague form letters, Bridget responded with a single sentence, agreeing simply that, yes, those otters did indeed sound like assholes.

And in return for that bit of humanity I’m totally sharing this picture of Lou Diamond Phillips holding water.  You’re welcome, America.

I'll say this for him: The man has range.

UPDATED AGAIN:  Wow.  I just got an email from a different PR woman who wants me to share pictures of Selma Blair wearing a goddam scarf.  What the fuck, marketing?

BTW, this was my response to her:

I would love to post a picture of Selma Blair wearing a scarf but unfortunately I *just* posted a picture of Lou Diamond Phillips holding water and I’m afraid that back-to-back posts of random celebrities using everyday objects might be too overwhelming for my readers.  Please keep me posted if you come across any photos of Wil Wheaton collating paper.

Hugs,  Jenny

And then they asked if I’d like to interview Santa Claus. That happened.

A few days ago a PR agency asked if I’d like to do a live video interview with Santa and was like “You have obviously never read me. OF COURSE I’LL DO A LIVE, UNSCRIPTED INTERVIEW WITH SANTA CLAUS WHERE I CAN ASK HIM ANYTHING WITH NO REPERCUSSIONS” and then I felt a little bad for the company because it was pretty clear they had no idea what they were getting themselves into and I considered asking Santa all serious questions about healthcare reform and abortion rights just to see how he’d react but I don’t actually know enough about those topics to ask legitimate questions about them so instead I decided to just see if I could get Santa to say something vaguely inappropriate within the first four minutes and by minute two he was all “I. DO. NOT. watch ANYONE getting undressed, Jenny“.  And technically he was just saying that to defend himself, but still? I count that as a win.

There’s a video right here but it’s really hard to hear me so I’m just going to share my questions here:

1. When I was eight I asked you to kidnap my sister and replace her with a puppy and I got the puppy but I still have my sister. Do I need to send her to you or drop her off somewhere?

2. In an epic battle for world domination between zombies and unicorns, who would win?

3. Do you ever get mad that you have to share the spotlight with Jesus?

4. You know that song that goes “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”?   Are you also watching me when I’m getting undressed? Because lately I’ve been undressing under a tarp and it’s kind of uncomfortable.

5. Can you tell me about your sack? Just how big is it?

6. Do the elves mind if you call them “elves” or do you have to call them “little people?”

Overall, Santa handled it like a pro but Mrs. Claus looked a little pissed.  Probably because some strange woman was asking her husband to describe his sack.

PS. My favorite clarification from Santa: “If you’re being naughty naked, I’m not looking.”


I can't tell if she's clutching her pearls or pulling out a shiv. Either way, she scares me.

UPDATED: That last one was a bluff so it’s probably good that they passed. I can’t even keep a dog alive, much less a sasquatch.

Paraphrased email between me and a marketer.  The sad thing is that this is only slightly paraphrased:

Them: We would like to buy a text ad on your blog.

me: Ok. It’s $75.

Them: We will write a guest post on your blog with 4 embedded links to our product. We will give you $15.

me:  Um…no.

Them:  We will give you $18.

me:  No.

Them:  You will put 4 links to our product pages on your blogroll page.  We will pay you $2 per 1,000 click-throughs that result in sales.

me:  Wow.  Does this usually work for you?

Them:  You will write a review about our product.  We will send you high quality photos of the product if you agree.

me:  That sounds great but the electric company just stopped accepting high-quality photos as forms of currency.  I will send you a high-quality photo of me saying no to you.

Them: We are not currently paying for marketing but your readers would appreciate learning about our product.

me:  Nice try, Obi-Wan.  Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.

Them: This is no trick.  We can offer your readers a 10% coupon if they tweet about our product.  Your readers will thank you.

me:  You will send me $1,000 and I will send you a high-quality photo of me spending it.

Them:  This would not benefit us at this time.

me:  You will send me a dog as big as a pony and I will send you a high-quality photo of me riding it.

Them:  We have many other bloggers interested in being in this exclusive program.  If you are not interested in this program please let us know so that we can move on to our next choice.

me:  You will send me a cloak of invisibility and I will send you high-quality photos of me being invisible in it.

Them:  We are sorry that you are passing on this valuable opportunity to help your readers.  We will keep you in mind for future products which meet your requirements.

me:  You will send me four dead cats in a shoebox.  I will send you high-quality photos of them as marionettes.

them:  Thank you for your time.  Your blog is not a good fit for us presently.

me:  So you aren’t interested in placing your links on my blog?

them:  Yes.  Please notify us when the links are active.

me:  You will send me a large Sasquatch.  I will send you high-quality photos of me playing Chinese-Freeze-Tag with it.

So far I have received no response.

I win.

UPDATED: After eleventy million (eleventy million = five) of you insisted that I publish this on xtranormal I actually did it. FYI, I’m British in this video because they don’t have a Texan accent and this seems like the next best thing.  Also, British people are unable to properly pronounce “sasquatch”.  Apparently.

Comment of the day: Sort of reminds me when a telemarketer called to talk to me about some new phone service and I told him I didn’t actually own a phone. He went quiet for a minute and then I gently told him that because I didn’t own a phone, I couldn’t really be having this conversation right now. And then I hung up. ~ Allison

It’s possible that Misty is just fucking with me, but I really doubt it.

Wow. I could not even make this shit up y’all. You know how whenever I get a particularly terrible form-letter PR pitch I fuck with the marketer for as long as possible because I’m a terrible person and it’s entertaining to me?  Well, I do.   90% of the time I never get a response from my initial reply but occasionally these emails take on a life of their own. This is one of those times:


Hope this note finds you well and you are enjoying your Wednesday. I also
wanted to say what a fabulous website!!! I really enjoyed going through
it, especially the “You would see the biggest gift would be from me and
the card attached would say “Thank you for helping me dig up my dead
post. Being a mother to a 2 year old and now pregnant with twins,
I am constantly searching for valuable information to use from the
blogosphere community. It is always neat to hear other mother’s/father’s
perspectives.  Isn’t being a parent so rewarding!!!

I also wanted to introduce myself to you. I am the editor-in-chief for I wanted to see if you would be interested in helping us spread the
word about exactly what Baby Sign Language is all about. We would love to
do an guest post on Baby Sign Language for your blog. Not sure if you even
allow guest posts, but thought I’d ask and see. I would write an exclusive article
in exchange for a link to our site at the end of the article. There are many topics
that I thought your readers would enjoyfrom our baby sign language expert.
Alternatively, if you prefer another topic just let me know and I can write anything of your
choice. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks again, Misty


Let’s just clarify here. This email is addressed to a website. I got this email on a Thursday. The post she said she enjoyed was the one where I had to dig up my recently deceased dog. It’s pretty clear that Misty had never read my blog before and thus I had no compunction whatsoever about fucking with her. My response:

Hi Misty!
Sounds like a great program but as you probably know from my blog, my child was
born without hands, so I’m not sure signing is a viable option. I assume your
sign language program is adaptable to feet?

Hugs, Jenny

To my great shock and delight, Misty was on board with this project:

Hi Jenny,

I would love to write an article on using baby sign language with your feet. Hopefully this will help other families out as well. I will get the article to you as soon as it is written. Please give me 3 weeks at the latest to get it to you. If you have any questions or need the article sooner then please let me know.

Have a great day!!!

At this point I started to feel bad that she was working on a guest post that would never be printed so I quickly responded:

I’m sorry, Misty. I probably should have clarified before that my
hand-less child is actually a cat. My husband said that some people don’t
understand when you refer to your pets as “your children” but I can assure
you that Mr. SnugglePants is more than family to me. I’m assuming that
your segment on sign language for hand-less children would translate well
for handless cats? My only concern is that most human children have 10
toes but Mr. SnugglePants was born with 12 toes, which I can only assume
was God’s way of making up for Mr. SnugglePants missing hands. Will that
be an issue?

Just let me know.

I suspected that would be the last I heard from Misty. I was so. fucking. wrong.

Hi Jenny,

Sorry for the confusion. I’m not sure how that would work and wouldn’t want to offend anyone by this. I am definitely not an expert in cat signing. Sorry about this.


And then I just felt bad. Because either Misty is completely clueless or she’s just really, really, really polite. So instead of fanning the flames I decided to stop the madness:

Oh Misty. I kind of want to just hug you. I have to come clean here. My cats are all fully-formed, normal-toed, and just terrible at sign language. I’m sorry. To be honest, I was just fucking with you because that’s what what I do when I get form letters from people telling me how much they enjoyed the post I wrote about my dead dog. Then I post the letters on my blog with no guilt but you’re so damn nice that I just feel terrible. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to post this on my blog and at the end I’m totally going to pimp out your sign language thingie. Because your naivete is motherfucking charming.


And, true to my word, I would like to recommend if you have a baby who refuses to speak to you, or an adequately-toed cat.  Also, NO ONE YELL AT MISTY.  She’s pregnant with twins and is probably very, very tired.  We’re giving her the benefit of the doubt here because she (totally unintentionally) made my whole week a little brighter.  Bless her heart.


My travails with marketers have been widely documented but sometimes they really outdo themselves.

Email I recieved today:

I don't even know what to say anymore.

I did, of course, respond.

Otherwise, how will they learn?

Because some things are worth more than a box of cereal

Hi.  I’m about to overstep my boundaries.  You might want to back away slowly because I don’t usually do this and I might get blood on you.

Okay, I’m pissed.  Legitimately, ridiculously, slightly irrationally pissed.

A few minutes ago I got a pitch from a company who wanted me to write a review for their cereal on my blog.  And they would pay me.  In cereal. Two boxes of cereal, specifically.  Except that the cereal wouldn’t actually go to me.  It would be used as a giveaway.  To promote their cereal.  On my blog.  Because as a blogger I’m so desperate for material that I will happily regurgitate any commercial bullshit that anyone puts in front of me.  Apparently.

I’m really struggling with writing this because I fully believe that people should be able to write whatever they want but if you as a blogger are accepting a box of cereal as payment for helping to grow a commercial ad campaign then you are undervaluing us all.  Companies have advertising budgets and some of those companies spend that money on bloggers.  And those companies should be applauded for helping to grow our community and for giving bloggers the same respect that you would give to any other profession.  Other companies give their advertising budgets to PR firms who are paid quite well to get bloggers and other outlets to advertise the product in exchange for cereal.  I can almost guarantee you that none of the PR people who contact you are working for cereal.  In fact, let’s explore that scenario…

Cereal company:  Hi!  We need a large, professional PR campaign so we’d like you to contact everyone on your mailing list with a pitch about our product, where you can buy it, and also convince them to write all about it on their personal blogs.  For cereal.  And we’ll pay you!  In cereal.

PR Company:  What the fuck..?

Cereal company:  But you can’t eat the cereal.  You have to give it away to someone else.

PR company:  Right. Is this a joke?

Cereal company:  No!  It’s real!  You get two boxes of cereal!

PR Company:  Um…we don’t work for cereal.  We all have mortgages.  And…desk payments.

Cereal company:  The cereal is worth FIVE DOLLARS!

PR company:  Is there something wrong with you?  Because we’d like to tell you to fuck off but we’re afraid to because we think you might be mentally unbalanced.


PR Company:  Never contact us again.

*end scene*

Look, I’m not saying that there aren’t good PR companies out there or that if you review products you’re a bad blogger or that writing about a product that you honestly love is bad.  It’s great, in fact.  Write about what you love.  Write about who you are.  Write things that are worthy of you and of your audience.  Because your voice is worth more than a goddamn box of cereal.

And don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.

UPDATED: To answer your questions, yes, this was a totally serious proposal. And no, it wasn’t even for Cap’n Crunch. It was for some obscure, made-from-applesauce, marshmallow-less crap WITH NO PRIZES IN IT.

I might have actually considered doing it for Cap’n Crunch. But not because I eat cereal. Because I support our Navy.

Comment of the day: I got one of these the other day. They want to send me two bags of candy which I would then in turn send to other people. Which just seems like a huge waste of postage.  I am letting them send me the candy. And then I’m going to eat it. ~ Abi

Ten points just for responding.

Last week some PR chick sent me an email in case I wanted to post a commercial here about the mattress/bedding firm she represents.  I told her it probably wasn’t a good fit since their sheets cost more than I paid for my whole bed and then I asked her to clarify whether their comforters were stuffed with dollar bills or truffles.  This is where she should have stopped and realized that I was a lost cause but instead she sent me a very long and serious response about average prices of comforters and how theirs are different weights for you and your partner (or something, I blacked out a bit after the first paragraph) but I did appreciate her time and I was a little drunk so I decided to email her back because if I’m going to have to deal with pitches I’m at least going to entertain myself.  My email:

See that’s why I just use dogs.  I sleep under three dogs and my husband sleeps under one.  Or sometimes on top of one.  Depends on the weather.

But it’s way cheaper than comforters because they’re dogs.  And they’re not even my dogs.  They’re just strays that live behind the mall.  So I don’t even have to buy dog food or rabies shots.  It’s like I’m practically *making* money.  WHILE SLEEPING.

Still, I’m open-minded and if you would like to send me a free bed and a comforter I would be happy to write a review comparing how it stacks up to sleeping on dogs.  The good news though is that I don’t even like dogs so the odds are already in your favor.  Unless your mattress is stuffed with dogs.  Then it’s probably about even.  Where exactly do I need to submit my shipping address?



Then I went to bed confident that this would be one of the many ridiculous emails I sent out last night that would end in uncomfortable silence but this morning I woke up to a response:


I sleep with one dog under my feet.  At this moment we’re not doing giveaways but I will mark down that you are interested in reviewing a comforter in the future.


Touché, Natasha.  Touché, indeed.